As the third anniversary of the stabbing death of Alva Smith Jr. approaches, accused murderer Nickolas Batchelor, 25, of Brazil, appeared in Clay County Superior Court Monday to enter a guilty plea for the charge of voluntary manslaughter, a Class A felony.
Batchelor previously plead not guilty to murder.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled March 15 in Clay Superior Court, Judge J. Blaine Akers presiding.
Batchelor and his attorney, Geoffrey Creason, submitted a Sentencing Recommendation on Feb. 3.
If the agreement is approved by Akers, Batchelor will plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and be sentenced to the Indiana Department of Corrections for a term of 50 years. Ten years of the sentence will be suspended with 40 years to be executed. Batchelor will be entitled to credit for time previously served and good time credit, if earned.
Batchelor will also be placed on probation for a period of 10 years, five years will be formal and five years will be informal.
Voluntary manslaughter in this case carries the meaning that Batchelor did knowingly kill Alva Smith, while under sudden heat. Committing the murder with a deadly weapon, or a knife.
The charge of voluntary manslaughter carries a 20-50 year prison term and a $10,000 fine.
Smith, 49, was stabbed numerous times on Feb. 19, 2003, at his home, 404 W. Kruzan St. After the attack, Alva was able to walk to the home of neighbor Don Wilson who called 911 for medical assistance. Smith died shortly after arrival at St. Vincent Clay Hospital from his injuries.
"It's one heck of a way to wake up in the morning," Wilson told The Brazil Times the day the killing occurred.
Wilson did not know Smith well, though the two had been neighbors since Wilson moved to the neighborhood about 18 months prior to the murder.
Another neighbor, Cindy Stantz, said Smith had lived at his address "for years and years."
"It's kind of scary," Stantz said. "You don't know what is going to happen next and there are a lot of vacant houses around here. You don't know if anything is going on in them."
Smith was married and had two stepdaughters, but the couple had separated in 2002, a neighbor said. Batchelor was charged on Sept. 27, 2004, for Smith's murder.
Editor Frank Phillips contributed to this report.